A Guide to the Bob Brister Papers, 1953-2005
Bob Brister was born in Kerens, Texas, on January 25, 1928. After graduating from high school in Kerens, he briefly served in the US Army from 1946 to 1947. Enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin for two years as a journalism major, Brister left school to work as a reporter for the Athens Daily Review. He became the Managing Editor of the Athens Daily Review at the age of twenty-one. Brister subsequently worked for the Tyler Courier Telegraph and the Marshall News Messenger before becoming the Outdoors Editor of the Houston Chronicle in 1954. Brister stayed with the Chronicle for forty years, retiring in 1998. In the late 1960s he hosted a local television show entitled "Outdoors with Brister" and later began filming and producing movies including two award-winning big game fishing films for the Pinas Bay resort in Panama. From 1971 to 1985 Brister was also the Shooting Editor of Field and Stream . He authored three books: The Golden Crescent (1961), a collection of short stories together with paintings by nationally known painter John Cowan; Moss, Mallards & Mules (1973), a collection of hunting and fishing stories; and Shotgunning: The Art & Science (1976).
Brister traveled extensively, hunting and fishing all over the continental U.S., Africa, South America, Europe and Alaska. In 1968 he raced in the Texas Channel Derby in the fishing boat class and won first place overall. He shot and won several contests in skeet, trap, and international trap. In 1980 Brister traveled to England to learn the traditional English game of sporting clays. Upon returning to Houston he crusaded to get the gun industry and range owners interested in the sport. Brister was often called the father of sporting clays in the U.S. with many Texas sporting clays shooters referring to him as a living legend.
Brister was instrumental in the creation of the Gulf Coast Conservation Association (now the national Coastal Conservation Association), whose mission to restrict commercial fishing on the Gulf Coast and preserve coastal fishing resulted in the rebound of trout and redfish on the Gulf Coast. In 1980 he advocated non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting; his efforts won him the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Award in 1988.
Some of Brister's other accomplishments include: Texas Sporting Clay Association Hall of Fame 2004; National Sporting Clay Association (NSCA) Hall of Fame 1999; NSCA National Veteran Champion 1994 & 1999; NSCA Team USA 2001 & 2003; NSCA All-American Team (6 times); Trap and Pigeon Association All -American Team (several times); World Duck Shooting Champion (twice); Argosy Magazine Award for Small Boat Design 1961; Thomas Fleming Day Award 1961; Winner of many USSCA & NSCA tournaments in Open, Veteran & Super Veteran Classification; Pulitzer Nominee for Hurricane Carla newspaper coverage 1961; Graphic Arts Hall of Fame inductee for Hurricane Carla photos 1961; Headliners Club, First Place for Coverage of Hurricane Celia 1971; National Outdoor Writers Association Excellence in Craft Award 1995; Texas Outdoor Writers Association Excellence in Writing Award; United Press and Associated Press Awards for writing/photography (many).
Bob Brister died of cancer on June 14th, 2005 at his Houston home.
Clippings and other published works, drafts of manuscripts, and photographs comprise the bulk of the Bob Brister Papers (1953-2005, 11 cubic ft.), and document his career as a writer, journalist and photojournalist. The Brister Papers contain four series: General, Writing, Photographs, and Research.
The General series (1959-2005) contains biographical materials related to Brister's career as well as some personal letters written to him. The Writing series contains articles Brister wrote for the Houston Chronicle (1954-1993; 46 folders). Many clippings include photographs credited to Brister. Other published works are from Field & Stream , Texas Sporting Journal and other magazines (1946-2005). Materials found in the Research series (1973-1991) focus on the effectiveness, safety, and toxicity of using lead shot versus steel shot while hunting waterfowl—material collected in connection with his writing as well as a legal case in which he gave testimony, The National Rifle Association vs. Thomas S. Kleppe and Lynn A. Greenwalt (1976). Transcripts from this case are also included in the Legal Documents sub-subseries. The Photographs series contains original prints of hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities taken by Brister. Maintaining Brister's categories, the photographs are organized alphabetically by location and type of activity.
Items of note include a postcard nominating Brister for the Pulitzer Prize, the Hurricane Carla articles for which he was nominated (1961), several drafts of short fiction related to hunting and the outdoors, and a copy of his book Shotgunning: The Art and Science. Oversize materials include mounted photographs and clippings related to Brister's Pulitzer nomination and paper shooting targets depicting waterfowl.
A portion of these papers are stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Donor must approve publication of any material from Brister’s books.
Bob Brister Papers, 1946-2005, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Matthew McKinley, Shannon Moore, Kathryn Puerini, Erin Schuelke, November 2009. Subsequent revisions were made by Christopher Orion Magee, June 2010.
Detailed Description of the Papers